HIV Vaccine Translational Research (HVTR)

Research HVTR

The HVTR Lab is part of the Indian Government's effort to create regional centers of scientific excellence in the country. The Laboratory is driven by its mission to develop strategies to accelerate the design and evaluation of HIV immunogens—the active ingredients of vaccines—in preclinical studies. It seeks to do so by developing, refining and adapting high-throughput technologies for the systematic screening of thousands of candidate immunogens that elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV. Advances in the new field of proteomics over the past decade have made it possible to delicately probe protein molecules by the thousands, so that their interactions with other molecules can be rapidly assessed. The Laboratory seeks to build upon these technologies to screen potential protein immunogens on a massive scale, evaluating the ability of thousands of distinct proteins derived from variants of HIV to bind to neutralizing antibodies. Those that do so best can be modified and refined in parallel, and then prioritized for further evaluation.

THSTI and IAVI expect that this ambitious endeavor will, by both harnessing and developing cutting-edge biomedical technologies, accelerate progress toward the creation of preventive HIV/AIDS vaccines. In addition, the research tools and strategies developed in this project could revolutionize the development of vaccines against other pathogenic viruses, including hepatitis C, dengue and influenza, among others. Researchers at the Laboratory are also devising cell culture-based strategies to hasten the preclinical evaluation of immunogens. This will help us better hone the selection of candidate immunogens, and could significantly improve the efficiency of preclinical development. Additionally, working closely with IAVI's AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory in New York, and the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center (NAC) at The Scripps Research Institute in California, the HVTR Laboratory screens sera collected from HIV-positive volunteers for their ability to neutralize HIV. The samples that show proof are further analyzed for the possible detection and isolation of new broadly neutralizing antibodies, thereby expanding the repertoire of targets on HIV that are available for structure-based immunogen design.

Aims and Objective:

  • Leveraging HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein-based proteomics ("Envelope-o-nomics") to screen and select Env proteins based on their binding profile to multiple neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies.
  • Prioritizing Env based immunogens based on their ability to activate B cells following interaction of antigen with the B-cell receptor leading to initiation of intracellular signalling pathways.
  • Isolation of broadly neutralizing antibody from Indian patients and to investigate the molecular specificity of broadly neutralizing antibody contained in the sera. Usage of germ line genes for the elicitation of antibodies will be explored for designing of HIV-1 vaccine candidate immunogen.

Governance Structure:

Recognising the importance of an effective institutional framework that enables skilful program management, the state-of-the-art HIV Vaccine Translational Research Laboratory has three units:

  • Discovery,
  • Core Support and Function, and
  • Project Management

The units are headed by Dr. Bimal Chakrabarti, Director and Head of the HVTR Lab.

Organizational Structure